RICHMOND (September 6, 2012) -Today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli attended a news conference in Norfolk to discuss how the abuse of eminent domain power against local property owners by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority dramatizes the need for the constitutional amendment on property rights that will be on Virginia’s ballot this November.
“We have fought every year since before the 2005 Kelo decision to strengthen property rights in the commonwealth through various bills and three attempts at a constitutional amendment,” said Cuccinelli. “A property rights amendment to Virginia’s constitution is the ultimate protection Virginians need, and voters will finally have a property rights amendment to vote on in the November ballot. Hopefully then-finally-we can put this dreaded and abominable era of government taking private property from one landowner and giving it to another behind us.”
Norfolk law firm Waldo & Lyle P.C., the host of the news conference, also announced its appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court to stop the condemnation of Central Radio and other properties for private economic development at Old Dominion Village.
“The defense of property rights is the defense of a founding principle of this country,” said Cuccinelli. “It belongs in our constitution.”
Cuccinelli: A history of fighting for property rights
Attorney General Cuccinelli, a long-time proponent of property rights, helped write the constitutional amendment that successfully passed the General Assembly in 2012.
The constitutional amendment has four reforms:
- private property can only be taken for true public uses, not for enhancing tax revenues, economic development, or private gain;
- the cost of taking property must be borne by the public, not by the individual property owner. Fair and full compensation must be given when property is taken or damaged – this includes loss of business profits and loss of access (which will be defined by the General Assembly through legislation);
- no more property can be taken than is necessary for the project; and
- the burden of proof that the taking is for a true “public use” is on the entity taking the property.
While a state senator, Cuccinelli successfully sponsored a bill in 2007 to create a law that protected homeowners, farmers, and business owners from having their property taken by government and handed over to private entities for the primary purpose of increasing tax revenues or creating jobs. The attorney general gives this example: “The law stops a city from taking a local family business or a series of homes and turning the land over to a private developer so a shopping mall can be built. If the mall wants to be there, it is the developer’s job to make a convincing offer to the landowners; it is not the city’s job to force people out of their homes or businesses for the developer.”
Although that 2007 law was a major step forward in the protection of private property rights in the commonwealth, because it is a statute, it can be chipped away by future sessions of the General Assembly. Putting property rights protections in Virginia’s constitution ensures that the only way they can be changed is by a vote of the people.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Community, Politics, State Politics
Tags: attorney_general, cuccinelli, neighborhood